British Columbia has recorded three new deaths from the novel coronavirus, along with 48 new cases since Saturday.
The province’s total stands at 472 cases and 13 deaths as of Monday. Thirty-three people are in hospital, with 14 of them in intensive care.
Meanwhile, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters testing confirms that 100 people have recovered from the virus.
Health Minister Adrian Dix says the province is now testing between 3,300 and 3,600 people per day.
One of the three new deaths is linked to North Vancouver’s Lynn Valley Care Centre, while another was linked to Vancouver’s Haro Park Centre seniors’ home. The third person who died lived in the Fraser Health region.
Ten of the 13 deaths in B.C. stem from the Lynn Valley seniors’ facility. Thirty-six residents and 19 health-care workers there have also been infected.
At the Haro Centre, 10 residents and a dozen health-care workers have been infected.
Over the weekend, Fraser Health confirmed a staff member at Delta View Care Centre had been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
Henry said a staff member at a sixth facility, Vancouver’s German-Canadian Care Home, has also tested positive.
If you can, stay home
Henry has previously issued orders banning gatherings of more than 50 people and closing bars, restaurants and personal service businesses, but has resisted more heavy-handed orders that could legally require people to stay home.
The public has been told to follow social-distancing rules — namely, to remain two metres (six feet) apart from others in public.
Henry responded to widely expressed concerns about people not following those guidelines over the weekend.
“We do need to be sure we’re addressing some of those issues we have seen with people congregating in groups, often outside where it’s very visible,” she said.
“If you’re not in self-isolation, yes, you can go outside, but only go with your family members in small groups. Maintain those distances.”
Earlier on Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed frustration about people ignoring social-distancing rules and said he would be speaking with premiers to co-ordinate a crackdown on violators.
But Henry said most people have been obeying the rules, though she didn’t rule out using the police to enforce regulations if necessary.
“These reflect on the monumental changes that we’ve asked society to do, and it takes a while for those to sink in, and it takes a while for people to really understand that means ‘me, too.’
“We are encouraging people to be kind in how they address this.”
Henry said essential services, including grocery stores, must remain open, but people need to keep their distance from others when shopping.
Dix reiterated that anyone feeling unwell should not leave their home, noting that even someone with mild symptoms could put a senior or other vulnerable person’s life at risk.
“We need to think about them and act for them every single day, and that’s why we need 100 per cent compliance,” said Dix.
Henry called on health-care workers to be particularly vigilant for even minor COVID-19 symptoms to ensure they don’t spread the disease to co-workers or patients.
Although just 48 new cases were confirmed since Saturday, Henry reiterated that the province is focusing on testing health-care workers, hospital patients, long-term care home residents and outbreak clusters, and that others who have the disease are not included in her confirmed count.
Officials will soon provide numbers on these patients — that is, those who have COVID-19 but were diagnosed by a doctor, not a test, based on their symptoms and possible exposure history.
Dix said the province has freed up more than 1,200 acute-care hospital beds since Friday.
Bed capacity, which would normally be at about 103 per cent this time of year, was at 63 per cent, he said.
Around the province, there have been 248 confirmed cases in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 150 in the Fraser Health region, 39 in the Island Health region, 30 in the Interior Health region and five in the Northern Health region.
Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart says fines, business closures and other penalties could be on the way to enforce social distancing.
Stewart said council will meet virtually on Monday morning to vote on an amendment to the city’s emergency powers bylaw that would allow bylaw officers to issue penalties to anyone either gathering in large groups or not doing what they can to keep two metres apart.
— With files from Global News’ Sean BoyntonView link »